ANDERSON -- Although he denies that he was a child prodigy, George Smith was playing the piano in his Indianapolis church when he was only 8 years old. Eight decades later, he’s still entertaining with his musical abilities.
Smith (owner of George Smith Music) is a master organ player, and he and his wife, Norma, are dedicated to preserving the Paramount Theatre’s Grand Page Theatre Pipe Organ. That magnificent instrument is one of only three such organs in the United States. Their annual fundraiser “A Family and Friends Christmas” will be held at the Paramount Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22. As George explains, “The $5 admission fee lets everyone have the opportunity to attend. At that cost the whole family can come.” Smith will be playing a selection of Christmas tunes on the pipe organ in addition to a number of standards from the 1940s.
The show will be hosted by Norma Smith with musical performances by local favorites Carl Erskine and Jumpin’ Johnny Wilson. The event is a true family affair. Peggy Garvin, Norma’s sister, will do a Christmas reading with her grandchildren seated on the stage, and Peggy’s grandson Joe Gavin will entertain on the saxophone. Dr. Jamie Boe, Norma’s niece, is on the bill as the singing veterinarian. At the finale, Tim Wilbur will lead the holiday sing along.
Since 1997, George and Norma have raised close to $250,000 for the maintenance of the organ and operation of the historic Paramount Theatre. Gayle Jones Burris of the Paramount Theatre Center and Ballroom said, “George is a big fan of the Paramount and the Paramount is a big fan of George. . . .Without George and Norma’s help in raising funds we wouldn’t be able to maintain the pipe organ.”
Tickets are available at the Paramount box office or at George Smith Music Center on 2030 Raible Ave.